After Six Years, Google Drops Support For Toolbar On Firefox

Google has announced the end of supporting the Google Toolbar for Firefox.

Google said the Google Toolbar works in versions of Firefox 4 or younger, but not the new version 5 of Firefox. Google explained, “many features that were once offered by Google Toolbar for Firefox are now already built right into the browser.” So Google has decided the toolbar doesn’t offer enough of a value-add on Firefox and thus is no longer supporting it.

The Google Toolbar was first introduced over years ago for Firefox. Then later came to Internet Explorer. As you know, Google has their own browser, Chrome, without support for the Google Toolbar – but like they said above, Google’s Chrome browser has many of the toolbar features built directly into the browser.

Alex Chitu said that you can still run the Google Toolbar on Firefox 5 if you install the add on compatibility reporter.

This makes for the third Google service closing in two days, we had Google Labs shutting down and the Google Directory closing.

Postscript From Danny Sullivan: It’s rather stunning to see this closure. For one, Google uses the toolbar to track user behavior. It’s one way that Google gets site speed data that in turn is used to influence its search results. Many suspect that that surfing behavior is also used. The article below has more:

The argument that many features of the Google Toolbar are built into the browser doesn’t wash. Firefox doesn’t offer a native way to perform site-specific search, not to view cached pages, nor to perform specific vertical searches on Google, not to get PageRank data.

Firefox also doesn’t feed back into Google Web History. Only the Google Toolbar does that, which means Google has now permanently broken a part of personalized search for Firefox users going forward (and made no mention of this in its help pages). More about how the toolbar works with personalization is below:

Why would Google do such a thing, cutting both users off from their personalized data and itself off from receiving that information? My guess is that Firefox users weren’t found to be using the PageRank meter much (which in turn enables Web History / personalization).

Google’s never had a Google Toolbar for Chrome, so it has likewise been blind to getting information about site speed or user behavior through it, at least if you believe what Google says about not monitoring what people do in Chrome.

This leaves Internet Explorer as the only browser with support, unless you want to stay with an older version of Firefox. However, I’d recommend Groowe as a solution for the toolbar-less on Firefox 5.  It’s a long-standing plug-in that mimic most of the major features of the Google Toolbar, plus other search engine toolbars. I’ve happily used it for years.

Related Stories:

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Firefox | Google: Toolbar | Top News

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • http://pgabor.com GaborPor

    The funny thing is that the Google Toolbar was never available for Chrome, Google’s own browser. If you access the toolbar page ( http://www.google.com/toolbar/ff/index.html ) with Chrome you get a message saying “We’re sorry, but Google Toolbar is only available for Internet Explorer and Firefox.”. Makes me wonder what level of integration will be in the next version of Chrome of he features from the Toolbar and with Google+ features. I think this announcement is part of a push for increasing Chrome’s market share.

  • http://answerguy.com Jeff Yablon

    It IS stunning, and it’s why Danny is Danny.

    As for the question about dropping IE support … well, duh. The “features are already built in” line is pure propaganda; FF has too many users to drop off in this way unless the big G has decided that their strategy needs to shift away from “support everyone because it gets us information” to “we have the information, now we want control”.

  • http://answerguy.com Jeff Yablon

    I had to follow up/elaborate on what I said before: Google dropping support for the Google Toolbar is a pretty clear sign of something that up until now I’ve steadfastly argued wasn’t the case: GOOGLE IS A MONOPOLY:

    My point in detail is here: http://answerguy.com/2011/07/22/google-dominant-data-anti-trust-browser-monopoly/

    JY

  • http://www.psychlinks.ca djbaxter

    Actually, the latest Googlke Toolbar (7.x) still works just fine in Firefox 5.

    Here’s all you have to do:

    1. Download, install, and enable the Add-On Compatibility Reporter.

    2. Scroll down to the Google Toolbar in add-ons. Click on Compatibility to get the drop-down and then click on “This add-on still works”.

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